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Maloofs come up with “backup plan” to help Seattle group that also will get rejected

May 12, 2013, 8:00 AM EDT

Seattle SuperSonics v Denver Nuggets Getty Images

Give credit to Chris Hansen and his Seattle group — as well as the Maloof family who want to sell the Kings to them — because they have not given up.

After the NBA’s relocation committee voted unanimously to reject the idea of moving the Sacramento Kings to Seattle — essentially killing the sale of the team to the Hansen’s Seattle group — most groups would have retreated to fight another day.

This group didn’t. First Hansen’s team– which incudes Microsoft CEO Steve Balmer, who may be taking a larger role with the group — upped its valuation and bid for the team by $75 million.

Then they worked out a “backup plan” with the Maloofs, reports Brian Windhorst of ESPN.

Instead, the cash-strapped Maloofs have made a “backup” agreement with the Hansen-Ballmer group to sell it 20 percent of the team for $125 million to allow the Maloofs to continue to operate the franchise….

Sources said that new proposal also included a $115 million offer to owners as a relocation fee, which would amount to about $4 million per team. By comparison, in 2008 when the Oklahoma moved from Seattle, they paid a $30 million total fee to the other owners.

To consider these incredible new figures, the NBA relocation committee is planning to re-evaluate the Hansen-Ballmer offer and has scheduled another meeting ahead of next Tuesday’s full owners meeting in Dallas, sources said.

It’s an interesting plan… but it’s not going to work.

Well, unless the relocation committee changes its mind when it talks, but I wouldn’t bet on it. Their vote was always about what Sacramento did right in putting together a counter offer led by Silicon Valley billionaire Vivek Ranadive, professional leagues want cities that fight to keep their teams. It wasn’t about Seattle, other than they were good leverage.

The big problem with this “backup plan” is the majority of NBA owners have to approve the sale of even a minority of any team. And there is no way the owners are going to approve a sale of 20 percent of a team to a group clearly looking to move the team out of town when they have rejected that move already.

The Maloofs are under no legal obligation to sell their team to the Sacramento group. However, the family is reportedly cash strapped so they likely will have no choice eventually, especially if they can’t get a cash infusion from the Seattle group.

If you think what the Seattle group is trying will work, I think the penultimate paragraph of Windhost’s article sums up neatly why I would argue it will not.

Throughout this tedious process, the Maloofs and the Hansen-Ballmer group have worked without involving the league office and powerful NBA commissioner David Stern. Meanwhile, the Sacramento group and Mayor Kevin Johnson have worked with Stern every step of the way. That partnership seems to have helped the city and Ranadive get into favorable position with other owners.

And what David Stern wants….

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